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Witness Wanderers: Audiences deliver huge affirmation


October 8, 2002

Winnipeg, Man.—When a tornado blows Dorothy off course and lands her and Toto in the Wonderful World of Witness in the Land of God, she embarks on a journey of discovery with her newfound friends Strawman, Tinman, and Lion.

In a parallel journey of discovery, the actors dubbed the Witness Wanderers (Laura Donaldson, Ashley Frank, Willard Metzger, Ron Weber, all of Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ontario), traveled to sixteen cities in six provinces over two weeks to present the Wonderful World of Witness drama to gatherings big and small, old and young.

Instead of the Land of Oz, the characters in the drama are seeking the Land of God. Enroute, they discover how intellect, courage, and compassion are essential elements of Christian service, at home and abroad. They learn about service opportunities through Mennonite Church Canada’s Christian Service Ministries, how to partner in prayer through PrayerNet, and how to become mission partners with churches in other countries. And the characters drive home the message that all form of Christian service are of equal importance—whether in homes and families, across the street, or around the world.

And in their journey through central and Western Canada, the actors got a taste of the World of Witness in various congregations across Canada. They learned that Hillcrest Mennonite Church in Grande Prairie, Alberta has an upper level residence for families, and programs for children and youth that live there. In Steinbach, Manitoba, they engage a group of children watching with fascination as the troupe gets into costume. In Vancouver they connect with a man who has crafted caricatures of the four characters during the performance. In Abbotsford the drama prompts an emotional response from a young man; several pastors and members respond in spontaneous prayer.

Along the way the group kept a journal of their fourteen day whirlwind tour. Their stories reflect the range of emotions encountered along the way through nearly missed performances, schedule changes, lost stage props, traffic jams in strange cities, getting reacquainted with old friends, making new friends, and the variety of hospitality provided by hosting congregations.

But most of all they were buoyed by the consistent affirmation they received from audiences. Informative, creative, and appealing to all generations were just a few of the comments of enthusiastic appreciation the group repeatedly heard.

Metzger and Weber, both pastors at Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ontario, have a tradition of taking teams of youth and young adults on mission and service trips. But this was the first time they undertook a Canadian trip – previous trips have been international.

“This is an important year of development for Mennonite Church Canada Witness. If we don’t have strong congregational support, we won’t have international ministries to support,” said Metzger, who also chairs the Mennonite Church Canada Witness Council.

Weber noted the generous support they received from their home church. “This is a significant sacrifice as both pastors are leaving at the same time. The congregation felt this was a worthwhile cause.”